Several years ago this Australian university professor of Croatian extraction working at Monash University in Melbourne conducted a comprehensive study on the Croatian Language among members of the second generation in the Australian-Croatian community.
A fascinating panel discussion on Croatia as a Minority Language was staged at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences on the 4th of February, organised by the department for socio-cultural linguistics of the Croatian Philological Society and by the Institute for Linguistics of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
As noted in the introductory part of the event by panel moderator and senior lecturer Lucija Šimičić DSc of the University of Zadar’s department of linguistics, considering the growing number of diverse studies in socio-linguistics and socio-cultural linguistics and the broadening and development of linguistic ideas, methods and research methodologies, especially of the interdisciplinary type, the core objective of these kinds of meetings is to gather and create interconnectivity among Croatian researchers involved in this field of study in order that they might, in learning about the work of others, exchange ideas and experiences.
The visit of Australian university professor of Croatian extraction Dr Jim Hlavač of Melbourne’s Monash University (http://www.monash.edu.au/research/people/profiles/profile.html?sid=2632&pid=324) to Croatia was certainly an excellent occasion for this panel discussion, which also included the participation of Anđel Starčević DSc of the English studies department of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences, senior lecturer Marijana Kresić DSc of the University of Zadar’s department of linguistics and Aleksandra Ščukanec DSc of the German language studies department of the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
Hlavač has studied the use of the Croatian language in eight domains: the parental or family home; intimate language and habitual language at the personal level; free time, social life, the church; the media; the workplace, consumption in the service industry, the neighbourhood; education (attending Croatian language schools); and with the spouse and children. The objective of the study was to create a statistical overview of speakers of the Croatian language in Australia, to research in what domains was its use most prevalent, how speaking in Croatian looks, i.e. how it is possible to speak Croatian and English concurrently and what the perspectives are for the transmission of the Croatian language to the third generation.
In his presentation on the topic of language and the identity of Canadian Croatians Anđel Starčević presented the core results of his study based on a two-month visit to a four-member Croatian family in the Canadian city of Toronto. In its analysis of narratives and communication patterns, Starčević’s study offers new insight into the process of adopting the majority, in this case English, language in the emigrant communities and different (intra)generational views of the coupling of bilingualism and ethnicity in the formation of an individual identity.
Studying the language used by members of the second and third generation of Croatians living in Germany in communication on the internet, i.e. their bilingual Germano-Croatian identity, Marijana Kresić has arrived at the conclusion that multilingualism and cultural diversity stimulate the building of a trans-cultural, hybrid linguistic identity characteristic of members of cultures that are interconnected and interwoven, in this case those of Germany and Croatia.
Aleksandra Ščukanec spoke of the methodology of researching minority languages in the example of the Gradišće (Burgenland) Croatian dialect. The body of research of this young researcher encompasses dictionaries, terminology, cookbooks, newspapers and magazines, radio and television shows, literature, forums, blogs, private correspondence and linguistic biography interviews.
All of the experience related to this research work has convinced the author that the solution to the problems and doubts that arise in the course of research and the creation of an integral picture of this, for centuries preserved language, is, in fact, the interdisciplinary approach, collaboration and the transmission of experiences among researchers of divergent profiles, in this case people engaged in Croatian language studies, German language studies, Slavic studies, dialectology, anthropology, history and so forth.
Text by: Lada Kanajet Šimić